New Allergy Guidelines Suggest Peanuts Should Be On The Menu For Babies

The guidelines recommend that all infants start other solid foods before they're introduced to peanut-containing foods.

The flip side, it could be hard to implement if other children or adults with existing peanut allergies live in the home.

The National Institue of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has set a road map for parents in three categories.

The reason for the about-face: Early exposure dramatically lowers high-risk babies' odds of developing the allergy, according to the research. There is no timeframe for infants without eczema or any food allergy. Just because a child has a sibling or other relative with a peanut allergy does not mean he or she is at high risk, the NIAID and other groups said. The allergic reactions can be severe and life-threatening.

"You have the potential to stop something in its tracks before it develops", said Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, chairman of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's food allergy committee, and one of the authors of the new guidelines.

When you introduce the product to the child early on, generally around six months, it acts similar to a vaccine in that it aids in building an immunity to the allergen.

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It's important to note that whole peanuts pose a choking risk to young children, and so parents should not feed whole peanuts to infants.

Babies at high risk - because they have a severe form of the skin rash eczema, egg allergies or both - should be exposed to peanuts the earliest, at four to six months. Experts believed this would reduce the risk of them developing a peanut allergy, but now they believe it's the other way around. "There is this magic window of opportunity, where you can introduce peanut-containing foods", David Stukus, a pediatric allergist who coauthored the new guidelines, told Stat News.

The number of children with nut allergies has quadrupled in the past 13 years, and peanut allergies affect an estimated 2 percent of them, the Washington Post reports. Peanut-allergic patients are exposed to small amounts of peanut products over time to see whether they can be desensitized.

Allergy levels are soaring in the USA and have more than quadrupled since 2008. Among more than 600 infants studied, the prevalence of peanut allergy at age 5 years was reduced by 81% in infants with a history of allergy who were randomised to eat peanut compared with those randomised to avoid peanut.

Dr. Greenhawt said these new guidelines won't compete eradicate peanut allergies in children, but they're a great start. "I think that it's a risk", she said. "Preventing the development of peanut allergy will improve and save lives and lower health care costs", NIAID director Anthony Fauci said in a statement.

"There is a window where the immune system isn't going to recognize peanut as risky and that we believe happens very, very early", Greenhawt said. Within the 98 initially sensitive kids, 35.3 percent of peanut-avoiding kids developed allergies by age five, while only 10.6 percent of peanut-eating kids had allergies. Based on test results, introduce peanut-containing foods at 4 to 6 months. This can be peanut butter dissolved or thinned with water; peanut butter, peanut flour or powder mixed with a fruit or vegetable puree; or several pieces of Bamba, a puffed maize snack with peanuts, which can be softened with water or not depending on the child's age or preferences.

  • Myrtle Hill